Your Habits Are The Average Of The Five People You Spend The Most Time With

A group of people jogging up a hill

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” ― Jim Rohn

I used to disagree with this quote because I believed everyone makes their own judgements, regardless of the people with whom they spend time. But recent experiences have shown me that we are indeed influenced by our interactions with others. Let me explain how.

Two months ago, a friend asked me to care for her plants while she was away for the summer. I’m not a plant person; I only have one plant, which I water every other month (or when I remember). So I placed my friend’s plants on the windowsill next to my withered plant. Her plants were beautiful, and they brought more life to my space. At first, I had to write reminders to water them, but after a few weeks, it became a habit. Every Monday morning, I’d place all the plants (including mine) under the tap to water them. And guess what happened? My plant started to grow like the other plants. Adopting the habits of the healthy plants helped mine flourish.

A row of plants on the windowsill.

Just as with the plants, I reflected on how the people around us shape our habits and environment. Even now that my friend has retrieved her plants, I still have the habit of watering my plant every Monday. Not only that, but I’m starting to consider myself a plant lady, and I’m getting more plants soon.

Let me provide another example. I have a client who I visit every two weeks, and I noticed she has photos of friends and family all around her house, including the refrigerator door. When you look at the photos, you can’t help but feel happy. This inspired me to hang photos of happy moments on my fridge too.

But the biggest eye opener for me was working for my current employer. She’s an affluent businesswoman who owns multiple vacation homes. Ever since I started working with her, I began valuing my time more. Interestingly, I also raised the prices for my art and services, something I’d never been confident about doing in the past. Her influence helped me see my worth. Recently, she invited me and another colleague for dinner, and the conversation focused on real state, family, food, and traveling. After the fine wining and dining, I went home with tons of energy. I was inspired by our conversation and felt happy.

friends having wine and dinner

However, there are also certain friends I hang out with that drain my energy. When I’m with them, the conversation focuses on gossip, complaining, fear, or unhappiness – all of which had a negative effect on me.

You may be a positive person, but if you constantly hang out with negative, fear-based people, you are more likely to become a negative person yourself. Because of this, I now audit the people I spend time with, eliminating or limiting my time with people who don’t share the same work ethics or values.

In this interview with Marie Forleo, Dr. Ned Hallowell talks about the concept of lilies and leeches.

Lilies, by his definition, are people or projects that are worth the time and energy you invest in them. Leeches are people and projects that aren’t worth it, and often provide no return on the investment you put in. In order to have time for your lilies, you gotta get rid of leeches.

Some leeches, however, might be more difficult to get rid of, or you may not want to cut them off from your life completely. Like family, for example. But you can always control how much time you spend with them. And if a person is seriously bringing you down, you should consider cutting them off.

Like Dr Hallowell says, “You don’t owe it to the leech. Let someone else give him/her their precious life blood.”

You don’t owe it to the leech. ― Dr. Ned Hallowell Share on X

In my life, my most prominent lilies are my husband, my dad, and my friends Maritza and Stacy. No matter how hard life gets, they’re always there for me. It’s an equal exchange. We support each other’s dreams. Combined, they represent qualities I would like to pass on to my children, such as resilience, kindness, and hard work.

Self-help author Bob Proctor states the following:

“Take a look at your five people that you’re with most often, and ask yourself, If I have children would I want them to grow up and be like them? If the answer is no, you better start looking for some new friends. If the answer is yes, you’re already in the right circle of people.”

Just as I am selective with my own network, I also try to be one of the five people to someone else.

One positive influence I have on others is that almost everywhere I’ve lived, I’ve encouraged people to work out. During college, I invited my roommates to work out with me. We met every day in the living room at 7 pm, and did the Insanity workout together. When I was a teacher in a kindergarten, and I asked my colleagues if they’d like to work out after classes. To my surprise, they all said yes! We were often tired after a long day of teaching, but we all committed to a workout. Also, while living here in Groningen, I’ve encouraged multiple friends to exercise. Most importantly, they all saw results, which gave them momentum to continue to work on their fitness.

If you don’t have a strong social circle, the good news is that you can find your community online! But keep in mind, social media platforms can have a positive or negative influence on our behavior. They affect our self-esteem and our decisions.

Take Instagram, for example. When you spend hours looking at stories of people you follow, you’re exposed to their ideals, which can influence the books you read, the podcasts you listen to, and even the food you eat. This type of exposure is almost like interacting with these people.

They key to having a positive experience with social media is to follow like-minded people, people you admire, or people who share a similar goal. Every now and then, I like to declutter my social platforms, unfollowing people with whom I no longer resonate.

If you have friends that don’t share your work ethic or mindset, it may be time to reconsider their role in your life. Just because you’ve known someone for a long time, doesn’t mean they still need to be your friend. Some people are meant to be in our lives only for a certain period of time. Some people will come and go as the stages of our life change, and some will stay.

As I grow older, I value my time more, and likewise the people in my life. I like to have a big network but a small circle. My circle is made up of people I can completely trust with my emotions, and they’re genuinely interested to know what’s going on in my life.

What about you? Have you identified your core circle? What are the top qualities the people in your life represent? Do they make you want to be a better person, or do they drag you down? Let me know in the comments.



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Author: Jessica Araus

Jessica Araus is a mixed media artist and illustrator living in the Netherlands.

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